Using Panels for Online Research
CCSR offer 5 free places to research staff and students within the Faculty of Humanities.
Course Leader: Mick Couper
Web access panels or opt-in panels have been popular since the widespread adoption of browser-based Internet access. Most of these are based on non-probability recruitment methods. The goal is typically to gather a very large and diverse pool of volunteers, from which selected groups of panel members can be invited to specific surveys. While widely used by market researchers, such panels are also popular among academics and non-profit researchers. However, a growing number of recent studies have raised questions about the utility of these panels for the range of purposes to which they are put. This course will present an overview of the different approaches to Web access panels, with a focus on the users of such panels. The course will review the literature and present evidence on the advantages and disadvantages of using such panels for research, relative to using alternative approaches to survey data collection. Controversies regarding the inferential value or limits of such panels will be reviewed.
After this course, participants will
(1) Have an understanding of how Web access panels are generated, managed, and used in practice
(2) Understand the advantages and disadvantages of using such panels for a variety of data collection purposes.
(3) Be able to make decisions about when to use such panels and when not to do so.
This course is suitable for people with some experience with survey data collection, or for those who are considering using a Web access panel for data collection.
Couper, M.P., and Bosnjak, M. (2010), “Internet Surveys.” In J.D. Wright and P.V. Marsden (eds.), Handbook of Survey Research, 2nd Edition. San Diego: Emerald, pp. 527-550.